In north Oshawa, the iconic Camp Samac gate is old, badly damaged, and needs to be repaired — how it should be done is causing some debate.
“They’re definitely improvements we’ve been looking forward to as a community. I know Scouts have been looking to these improvements, especially to the entrance feature. And they’re improvements that are needed now in terms of safety, not just aesthetic,” said Regional Councilor Tito-Dante Marimpietri.
In May, Oshawa received a request from Scouts Canada, which owns the property, to alter the gateway facing Simcoe Street North. That was before a great storm hit Durham in late May, which has further damaged the historic gate.
“There was a lot of damage done in the storm,” said Mayor Dan Carter. “That storm did tremendous damage, especially to the gateway. I haven’t seen the interior of the property.”
Scouts Canada proposed:
• Removing decaying logs at the bottom of the north and south sidewalls. Replacing it with 18 inch cement board covered with matching culture stone.
• Removing all existing metal roofing and replacement with asphalt shingles in a complementary colour
• Refurbishing the front wood entry gate and trimming six inches of wood from the bottom. Adding three wood posts behind gate to permanently close through access from the west.
• Installing new brown aluminum fascia and eaves troughs.
• Replacing the wooden “Scouts Canada” logo sign. Removing all other signs on the gateway.
• Adding protective bollards next to the gateway for protection.
“The physical state of the existing gateway is in need of repair,” said Councilor Jane Hurst, who sits on the Heritage Oshawa committee. “Scouts Canada does recognize that in order to preserve this unique heritage feature at Camp Samac, they do have to refurbish it.”
In March 2021, Oshawa City Council officially designated Camp Samac, at 1711 Simcoe St. N., as a property of cultural heritage value or interest under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Under the heritage act, the alterations require review by Heritage Oshawa, and approval by Oshawa City Council.
In its report Heritage Oshawa supported the plan to refurbish the Camp Samac gateway, but raised some concerns. The committee asked Scouts Canada to consider:
• Using cedar shakes or metal roofing instead of the proposed asphalt roof with cedar shakes or metal roofing.
• Removing all or part of the north and south wood sides of the gate — if it is structurally possible.
“In an original picture of the original gateway in 1946 it was all open. Over time the Scouting group enclosed it,” said Hurst.
• Don’t use the proposed 18 inch cement board and cultured stone over the north and south wood sides.
“The committee didn’t think that would be a wise thing to do,” said Hurst. “It’s always been wood, it’s always been that.”
Council members debated whether demanding changes to the Camp Samac plan would prompt Scout Canada to appeal and delay the much-needed repairs to the gate. The issue was referred back for more information and will come back to council for a future decision.